Grants of between 10,000 – 500,000 pounds from the Big Lottery Fund will be made available to charities and voluntary sector organisations for research in the areas of health and social wellbeing. Exceptional projects will qualify for up to 1 million pound grants. Applicants who need extra support will be able to apply for development grants of up to 10,000 pounds to help develop their research proposal.
The grants will support the Cabinet Office strategy to give the third sector more of a voice and to encourage input to the design of public services. Strengthening communities in this way and providing conditions for the sector to survive is a key element in the move to transform public services.
The research programme will be demand led and the findings from the research will feed into the development of better services and interventions for people. The research will contribute to the work of the Improvement and Development Agency in its role of strengthening procurement practices through its commissioning programme which will involve some 2000 commissioners of services from across the public sector including health authorities and councils.
Voluntary and community sector organisations will be encouraged to link up with universities and the wider research community, but universities themselves are ineligible to apply for funding. A key element of the programme is that beneficiaries and users are involved in setting the agenda, conducting, managing and disseminating the research.
Funded projects must deliver an improved understanding of issues relating to the Big Lottery Fund’s UK themes and country outcomes and improve third sector participation and knowledge in developing, doing and using research.
Support for organisations wishing to apply for grants is available from Third Sector First, a collaboration of specialists in research and social policy, working primarily in the public and third sectors. Third Sector First has assembled a Research programme guidance booklet, ‘Designing and managing research’, which can be downloaded from the programme website: www.bigresearchprogramme.org.uk. A series of research advice and support workshops will begin in January 2008.